Violence is tearing Mali and the Sahel apart. But who are the armed groups behind the bloodshed? Where are international actors stationed in the region? And what motivates them all? This project maps jihadist and non-jihadist groups and pinpoints the presence of external actors in the region as of May 2019.

Ansarul Islam

This group began as a localised insurgency in the northern provinces of Burkina Faso, under the leadership of Malam Ibrahim Dicko. Dicko was a Peul commander linked to Ansar al-Din who was arrested by French forces in Mali in 2015 and then later released. The group’s first attack against Burkinabe forces was in December 2016, when they killed 12 gendarmes in Nassoumbou. The insurgency has quickly expanded since then. Today, Ansarul Islam is composed largely of Peul fighters and it conducts attacks across northern and eastern Burkina Faso, as well as operating on the other side of the Malian border. It is believed to be in close contact with members of Katibat Macina as well as Almansour Ag Alkassoum (before his death) and his fighters. It also operates increasingly along Burkina Faso’s border with Niger. When Malam Dicko died in 2017, he was replaced by his brother, Jafar Dicko, as leader.